Braves overcome fouls, Negaunee

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Braves shook off a foul plagued first half and gave the Negaunee Miners’ offense fits, en-route to a 43-30 win on Tuesday night.

“That first half was foul happy and a lot of that is excitement,” said Braves head coach Karl Dollhopf. “The kids came out hard and one thing I thought we did really well was in that third quarter, we adjusted and we didn’t give up fouls, but we still kept the pressure.”

In the first half Gladstone’s full-court press gave the Miners fits, but the Braves couldn’t keep out of foul trouble; racking up 10 team fouls and putting Negaunee in the double-bonus. The Miners took advantage, scoring nine of their 16 first half points from the charity stripe.

“I think everyone I put on the court tonight worked hard on defense and the only criticism I would have is sometimes we were overly aggressive and fouled and came out of our stance,” Dollhopf said.

The Braves led 26-16 at the half and went from 10 first half fouls to zero in the third quarter, while still playing an aggressive full-court defense on Negaunee.

“We didn’t do what we worked on in practice, we knew he was going to bring that,” Negaunee head coach Brandon Sager said. “We buckled under pressure at times, but at times we handled it pretty good. This game was a great learning experience; playing a good team like Gladstone, so we can definitely learn from this when we watch the film.”

The Miners started the second half on a 5-0 run as Adena Anderson connected on a 3-pointer and Aleda Johnson sank a lay-up, cutting the Braves lead to five. Gladstone responded with a 6-0 run, capped off by a corner 3-pointer from Callie Jensen on an inbounds play. Dollhopf said he was pleased with how his team responded.

“They creeped back in and we answered. You know a team is going to make a run at you and we seemed to respond,” he said. “They got it down to five and we built on that a little bit. That’s good to get a feel for team’s making runs at you.”

Gladstone took a 34-23 lead into the fourth quarter and went ahead 36-23 before the Miners responded with a six-point run, cutting the Braves lead to 36-29 with 5:20 left in the game.

It appeared the Miners were going to creep back into the game before Gladstone senior Christine Sharon sunk four straight free throws to put the Braves back up by nine points. Sharon sat for much of the game with foul trouble but was on the floor during the final minutes.

“It’s kind of hard for a player, when you sit, to be asked to come back in but I thought she was very active in the second half and did everything we asked and did a good job of getting back into it and doing what she had to do,” Dollhopf said.

Junior Lexi Hongisto led the Braves with 13 points, six rebounds and six steals. She also added a buzzer-beating floater to end the first quarter. Jensen netted eight points and senior Jess Beaudry snagged 13 rebounds. Eight players scored for the Braves and Dollhopf said he was impressed with the balance.

“I think that’s how it’s going to be for us this year,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to have that one 20 or 30 point scorer. I think it’s going to be hey it’s her night and we’re going to share the ball and that’s pretty hard to defend sometimes, so I like that.”

The Miners, who beat Gladstone twice last season, were without senior Rosalie Anderson. Sager said the team played hard but struggled to fill Anderson’s absence.

“We brought a lot of effort,” Sager said. “We were missing probably our best player. We tried to fill that void, we weren’t able to completely but I thought my girls really came out and gave a great effort. Our effort was there, we haven’t had a great couple weeks of practice so I told them they changed my mind.”

Gladstone (1-0) is on the road this Friday as they travel to Gwinn to take on the Modeltowners.

“It’s always nice to get the first win here, especially at home and get off to a good start,” Dollhopf said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of knocking off the rust and getting people in comfortable spots. Negaunee is always a good opponent to open up with because they’re well prepared and well coached, so I’m proud of the girls for the win.”